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Venetian Plaster and Faux Finishing Techniques|Faux Painting and Venetian Plaster|Distinguishing Between Venetian Plaster from Faux Finishing Venetian plaster is a wall and ceiling decorative finish, which consists of plaster mixed with marble dust, applied with a spatula or trowel in thin, multiple layers, which are then burnished to create a smooth surface with the illusion of depth and texture. When the walls are left unpolished, the Venetian plaster produces a matte finish that is rough and stone-like to the touch; in effect, unpolished Venetian plaster is very brittle and can easily be damaged. Where marble panels could not be easily installed or on surfaces that would be too expensive to carve from real marble, such as columns, corbels, and curved walls, venetian plasters are used as an alternative finish. Tinting or coloring can also be applied to Venetian plasters using natural or synthetic colorants and this procedure is purposely done when a specific marble color is desired or when a color that does not exist naturally is required.
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Authentic Venetian plaster is not a faux finish, and its authenticity can be distinguished in such a way that when natural, lime-based Venetian plaster is applied, it will eventually return to its original state, which is lime and marble.
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True Italian Venetian plaster is a good choice for surfaces that are always exposed to moisture, since lime plasters perform extremely well in wet climates by allowing any water that is absorbed into the plaster to quickly evaporate and exit the structure, and that’s why lime plasters are called Venetian plasters, because they can tolerate rising damp and canal-side applications, like in the lagoons of Venice. Since Venetian plaster is self-healing, much less likely to crack than cement finish, and naturally mold-resistant, thus resulting in beautiful walls that can withstand the test of time, unlike paints, which must be re-applied over and over, Venetian plaster is a lifetime finish. A decorative, paint technique that is applied to replicate the appearance of materials such as marble, wood or stone, is known as faux painting or faux finishing and this technique has also come to encompass many other decorative finishes for walls and furniture, including simulating recognizable textures and surfaces. The faux finishing techniques come in many forms, and they are: faux marbling (used to make walls and furniture look like real marble), fresco (uses mixture of tint and joint compound to add mottled color and subtle texture to plain walls), graining (used to imitate exotic or hard-to-find wood varieties), color wash (using multiple hues of glaze blended together with a paint brush), Strie (glazing technique using a paint brush to create soft thin streaks of color), rag painting (using twisted or bunched up rags to create a textural pattern), and sponging (free-form finish achieved by applying glaze to the wall by dabbing a sea sponge).